The Utah Jazz are looking for a coach. Who could replace Quin Snyder?


 The Utah Jazz are looking for a coach.  Who could replace Quin Snyder?

Quin Snyder resigned as head coach Sunday afternoon, citing the need for the Utah Jazz to have a new voice in their organization. He had been at the top for eight years. He ranks second in franchise history with his 372 wins. He led the jazz into the postseason in six of his eight seasons.

His resignation came as little surprise, given that a hefty contract extension offered by the front office hasn’t been promised. At the same time, Snyder’s retirement marks the end of an era for jazz. He was one of the best coaches in the league. He was a balanced mix of X and O, the ability to be a player-coach and someone who was also a tactician in and before games.

The big question. What’s next for the Utah Jazz? How are the Jazz progressing in their search for a new head coach? This will not be just any quest. In fact, there are a lot of complications. The Jazz are likely to be aggressive in the trade market and could make a trade that impacts the top of their list. At the same time, sources say the athlete, the Jazz have no plans to relinquish their status as a year-on-year playoff team in the Western Conference. And they have every intention of continuing their year-long quest to put themselves in position to contend for a deep playoff run, even a title run.

It makes the next month fascinating for Utah. Ryan Smith, Danny Ainge and Justin Zanik not only need to find a coach, but one at a time when a roster that’s been pretty stable by NBA standards in recent years could see significant change.

Seven names make up the initial list of potential head coaching opportunities, multiple league sources say the athlete.

The only former head coach is Terry Stotts, who recently led the Portland Trail Blazers to a 2019 Western Conference Finals. Alex Jensen, Snyder’s deputy at the Jazz, is on the list, as is former Jazz assistant and current New York Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant. Jensen and Bryant have extensive Utah ties and both played at the University of Utah for the late Rick Majerus. Jensen and Bryant are considered gurus of player development.

Terry Stotts led the Trail Blazers to the 2019 Western Conference Finals. (Ron Chenoy / USA Today)

Phoenix assistant Kevin Young and Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee are also two names with interests in jazz, according to league sources, as is Boston Celtics assistant Will Hardy. Adrian Griffin, an assistant for the Toronto Raptors and father of Duke lottery contender AJ Griffin, was also mentioned.

Sources say the list could be expanded, and that’s tentative at this point. But the Jazz have a base to work from when they sit down and prepare for the interview process. Internal franchise talks are set to begin as early as Monday morning, sources say, but the Jazz are expected to take their time.

Some of the qualifications the Jazz are looking for: They want the next head coach to demand buy-in and respect from the roster, including star guard Donovan Mitchell. They want a coach who’s jazz-sense talented. Most assistants already have a great resume in terms of coach tree pedigree. Most of the names on the list are known for their ability to develop talent and direct a defense.

Griffin is a name to keep an eye on for the simple reason that he already has experience in finding a jazz head coach. He was a finalist in the search that ultimately landed Snyder in Utah, had previously done good interviews with the Jazz, and is considered one of the best head-coachable assistants on the market. Bryant is also someone to keep an eye on because he has a close personal relationship with Mitchell, is great at player development and is someone Mitchell would instantly respect, which is important.

The balance of the front office is also interesting. The Jazz wants to take their time with the process, review all candidates, conduct a thorough interview and sit down and make an informed decision. What franchise in this position wouldn’t want to do all that?

At the same time, the NBA Draft is a little over two weeks away. The start of free agency is a little less than a month away. The Jazz enter peak season to build their roster. Whoever they hire, they definitely want to create a roster that fits that hire.

And right now, the roster has a lot of questions without a lot of ready-made answers. League sources say several teams called the Jazz to inquire about Mitchell’s trade availability, only to receive a firm no. The Jazz have made it clear that they intend to build a roster around Mitchell. The only thing that could possibly turn Mitchell away from jazz at this point is a monstrous offer. They just have no intention of trading it.

But almost everyone else, including Star Center Rudy Gobert, has some availability in the trade market. League sources suggest that Gobert and small striker Bojan Bogdanovic were two names that have attracted a lot of interest from teams. The Jazz expect to be a team that will be aggressive in the trading market.

However, the variance in Utah is high. The Jazz could make several trades involving high-ranking names on the list. They could just bring back most of their squad. A lot depends on what offers come in and whether Jazz thinks it makes sense to make a particular move.

Most importantly, Utah’s first domino has fallen. Jazz needed clarity about which direction it needed to go. They needed to know if they had a head coach or needed to look for one.

Now they know to look for one.

The off-season for the Utah Jazz is officially here.

(Top photo by Jazz owner Ryan Smith and Danny Ainge: Rob Gray / USA Today)

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